News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th August 2005

James Nesbitt, Conleth Hill and Jim Norton will star in Owen McCafferty's semi autobiographical comedy Shoot The Crow, directed by Robert Delamere, opening at the Trafalgar Studios on 11th October. The play, about tilers on a Belfast building site engaging in petty crime in the hope of realising their dreams of a better life, has previously been seen at Druid Lane Theatre Galway in 1997 and Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester in 2003. The producer is Sonia Friedman Productions.

Ken Dodd, Richard Herring, Armando Iannucci, Simon Greenall, Alan Plater and the editorial team from the comic Viz are among those taking part in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Laugh In With The RSC, a series of events in Stratford celebrating Shakespeare the humorist, from 21st to 24th September. The programme of workshops, discussions, lectures and cabarets also includes contributions form actors Richard Cordery and Guy Henry, writers Jonathan Bate, Michael Hodges and Carol Rutter, psychologists Paula Hall and Richard Wiseman, director Greg Doran, voice expert Cicely Berry, designer Tom Piper and architect Ian Ritchie. Further information can be found on the RSC web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The current Hampstead Theatre production of Joe Orton's What The Butler Saw, with Geoff Breton, Jonathan Coy, Huw Higginson, Belinda Lang, Joanna Page and Malcolm Sinclair, directed by David Grindley, will transfer to the Criterion Theatre for an eight week season, opening on 24th August. Set in a London psychiatrist's clinic, the play is Orton's contemporary (1960s) interpretation of a classic farce. It will be presented by PW Productions.

The autumn season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds includes: Twelfth Night, directed by Ian Brown opening on 17th September; Charlotte Keatley's My Mother Said I Never Should, about the relationships between mothers and daughters through the 20th century, directed by Sarah Punshon; the premiere of Jerusalem, a musical by poet and novelist Simon Armitage, the story of a housebound ex-fireman who broadcasts local news live from his bedroom, and has a dream of becoming secretary at the Jerusalem Social Club that may be thwarted by his wife's lover, directed by John Tiffany; a musical version of Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland, with book and lyrics by John Wells, and music by Carl Davis, directed by Ian Brown; and Terry Johnson's Dead Funny, in which slapstick meets slap and tickle as a couple's marital problems surface during a meeting of the Dead Funny Society, directed by Matthew Lloyd.

On The Casting Couch: Oliver Ford Davies, Emma Fielding, Kate Best, David Troughton, Geoffrey Beevers and Trevor Cooper will star in David Edgar's Playing With Fire, opening at the National Theatre on 12th September; Simon Russell Beale will be joined by Simon Bubb, Siobhan Hewlett, Anna Madeley, Danny Webb in Christopher Hampton's The Philanthropist, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 13th September; Joseph Fiennes will be joined by Francesca Annis, Geoffrey Hutchings, Zoe Tapper and Dorothy Atkinson in John Osborne and Anthony Creighton's Epitaph For George Dillon, opening at the Comedy Theatre on 27th September; and Ewen Bremner, Ben Daniels, Stuart McQuarrie and Lesley Sharp will star in Sam Shepard's The God Of Hell, opening at the National Theatre on 26th October.

The Soho Theatre's autumn season includes: New York's The Riot Group in Switch Triptych, written and directed by Adriano Shaplin, about three switchboard operators at a telephone exchange on the brink of extinction in New York in 1919, opening on 9th September; Martin Freeman in Toby Whithouse's Blue Eyes And Heels, a bleakly funny look at the world of modern media through a television producer who wants to bring back wrestling, directed by Jonathan Lloyd, opening on 14th October; and Mark Shultz's A Brief History Of Helen Of Troy, directed by Gordon Anderson, about a girl grieving for her mother, whose relationship with her father is tested by her discovery of sex, ambition and beauty products, opening on 8th November.

Broadway Bound Florence Foster Jenkins will finally get to sing on Broadway, when the York Theatre Company's production of Souvenir, starring Judy Kaye and Jack Lee, opens at the Lyceum Theatre on 10th November. The two handed musical, written and directed by Briton Vivian Matalon, was first seen last year at the Off Broadway York Theatre. In real life, the socialite who gave supposedly serious classical concert performances in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, singing so out of tune that she became a cult figure did play Carnegie Hall - but not the Great White Way.

There is a strong French presence in the 27th Dance Umbrella, running from 20th September to 8th November, presenting the best of national and international contemporary dance, with 24 companies performing at venues across London. Highlights include: Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant performing two world premieres; the first UK visit for over 20 years by Paris Opera Ballet with Angelin Preljocaj's Le Parc, inspired by the geometry of 17th century gardens; Lyon Opera Ballet with Philippe Decoufle's latest ballet Tricodex, featuring 30 dancers and 150 costumes; Dominique Boivin and Pascale Houbin as Abelard and Heloise in the world premiere of Bonte Divine; the first British appearance of The Forsythe Company with a quadruple bill, and Mark Morris Dance Company celebrating its 25th birthday, with Morris performing in the From Old Seville. Full details of programmes and venues can be found on the Dance Umbrella web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Museum of Garden History is to stage a Jazz Nights Festival from 1st to 10th September, in its home of the restored St Mary-at-Lambeth church, next door to Lambeth Palace. Performers will include: Kenny Wheeler, Stan Sulzmann and John Parricelli, Guy Barker and Martin Taylor, Tommaso Starace Quintet, Karen Lane, The Zappatistas, Big Smoke, and Septeto Morena Son. The audience will also be able to enjoy the museum's reproduction 17th century knot garden, which will be open during the festival.

The Rumour Machine says: that Madonna may star in the long trailed West End revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Evita next June, which will be choreographed by Tony Award winner Rob Ashford; and that Natalie Portman may star in Richard Greenberg's The American Plan, a story of five outsiders in 1960s America, directed by David Grindley, which will launch the new Nimax Theatres regime of Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer in the West End in November. The Rumour Machine grinds on.